DILLO IS HERE

Dillo cover art by Rock the Dog

Dillo cover art by Rock the Dog

Dillo slides onto your bookshelf bloody.

It's not the blood dripping from that supremely pulpy sawed-off finger by Rock the Dog. It's just that Dillo was kicked around awhile before it found its home at Shotgun Honey, now an imprint of Down and Out Books. And, sure, its author has gone along for the ride. 

But it got there and for that I have to thank Ron Earl Phillips at Shotgun Honey for deciding to publish it with Eric Campbell and Lance Wright at Down and Out. Rock the Dog spent the hottest days of the summer of 2017 working over, I believe, 17 versions of the cover. The work paid off. No matter what you think of the book, the cover will be stuck to the inside of your brainpan until someone scrapes it off with a blowtorch. 

I'd like to thank Andy Rogers and Deb Hull, who have been reading my stuff before I was reading my stuff. Seven years ago Andy—then the fiction editor of the Chattahoochee Review—sent me a really nice email out of the blue about a story I'd submitted. The story ultimately got rejected, but Andy's encouragement has kept this boat afloat since then. We've even worked together on a script for an absurdist Wall Street shark thriller called Pipe Sharks.

I'd like to thank Nat Sobel for his generous advice at the beginning of my crime rampage. It helped get Dillo in the shape it is in now. Todd Robinson at Thuglit helped me early on by publishing two of my first psychopath stories. Tom Pitts has been unbelievably generous since I sent my first piece of flash fiction to Out of the Gutter in 2014, and he's one of my favorite crime writers. If you haven't read Hustle, you need to.

I'd like to thank Jack Getze for his thoughtful words on Dillo and for his advice on writing. That advice is now taped to the wall of my office. I was lucky enough to have Alec Cizak and Joshua Corin, two more writers I admire, read the MS and write blurbs. 

Evan Lambert has read the early drafts of every book I've ever written, and for that I owe him many beers I can't buy him, being an ocean and a sea away.

Finally, I'd like to thank my wife, Theopisti, for putting up with me since Austin and through all our adventures since.

Thanks, baby.

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Dillo is available as a paperback and ebook from Shotgun Honey, an imprint of Down and Out Books. If you're based in Europe, you're best bet is amazon.de or amazon.co.uk

 

THE RISES AND FALLS OF FORTINO SAMANO

Max Sheridan reading at Prozak Kafeneion November 18, 2017 at the Scrambler Launch 

Max Sheridan reading at Prozak Kafeneion November 18, 2017 at the Scrambler Launch 

What is it like to abandon the language of your birth to write in a completely unknown one—a fiendishly complex one, a non-Western one—and in a tradition hundreds of years old? In the case of internationally acclaimed haiku poet Fortino Samano, who for 25 years called Japan his home, we will never really know.

According to former New York Times literary critic and whistleblower, Michiko Kakutani, from the moment Samano burst onto the literary scene in Kyoto in 1992 with his trailblazing collection of urban haikus, Candy Man, to his shameful expulsion in early 2002 following the more commercially successful Tattoos of My Samoan Lovers, Samano never learned a word of Japanese and wrote poems that had the “the musicality of madly rutting pigs”.  Samano’s haikus, Kakutani claims, were “complete gibberish written in a pseudo-language that remains indecipherable to this day.” In Japan, Kakutani believes, that country of unimpeachable etiquette, it was simply too rude to ever expose Samano for the fake he was.

Did Samano’s poetry suffer from being written in a non-language?

Critics are divided.

Samano’s haikus, Kakutani claims, were “complete gibberish written in a pseudo-language that remains indecipherable to this day.”

But the fact is, in the wake of Kakutani’s blistering exposé, Samano lost his professorship at the University of Kyoto, together with his knighthood and several lucrative sponsorships, and was forced out of his penthouse apartment overlooking the Old Fish Market. He lived on the streets for nearly eight years running a one-man puppet theater in Spanish, until he was re-discovered in 2012, and immediately shipped out of the country for his literary crimes.

Samano’s fall from grace inspired scholars who had previously been mute on the subject of Samano’s authenticity to research the poet’s early years—from his shadowy beginnings in Cozumel, Mexico, where he was believed to have gone by the name of Coconut Dave, to his triumphant years in Castro’s Cuba, where he became the poet laureate of the Cuban Renaissance.

American novelist David Foster Wallace, who many Americans thought had invented Samano wholecloth from an Italo Calvino poem, claims he saw Samano “peddling haikus from a tamale stand” in Jalisco in the late 1980s. According to poet John Berryman, Samano was confronted by Hunter S. Thompson at a mule bar in El Paso several years before that, where he confessed in broken English that his Spanish poems had all been written in a cryptographic code that mimicked the language quite successfully.

Amazingly, Samano, who never learned a word of Spanish and yet rewrote the Cuban national anthem for an awestruck Raoul Castro, published over 240 chapbooks in the language. The 2,700-stanza The Bug Catcher (transl.) was lauded by Gabriel Garcia Marquez as the “one poem I wish I’d written”.

The grotesque forgery was never officially discovered in Cuba or anywhere else in Latin American. According to University of Cincinnati Samano scholar, P.J. Elder, Castro never officially booted Samano from the country and his books continued to be reprinted and read with relish for years following his voluntary exile to Japan.

Amazingly, Samano, who never learned a word of Spanish and yet rewrote the Cuban national anthem for an awestruck Raoul Castro, published over 240 chapbooks in the language. The 2,700-stanza The Bug Catcher (transl.) was lauded by Gabriel Garcia Marquez as the “one poem I wish I’d written”.

As we know, Samano returned to his native country of Cyprus in 2012, when he entered the priesthood, working briefly for the Archbishopric selling hot tubs. In the country of his birth, Samano’s return to poetry was a mostly unrecorded event, though a stringer from Karavgi did remark that Samano’s Cyprus poems are “the first ever the poet had written in a language anyone could actually read.”

But the lavish lifestyle and celebrity status his Spanish and Japanese haikus had afforded him for decades were simply unattainable in Cyprus, and the poet was reduced to producing “haikubituaries” for village luminaries, while working at an Esso station in Strovolos. 

In early 2017, a fledgling independent press based in Dali, Cyprus—OWK Press—re-discovered the disgraced poet making a nuisance of himself outside the Kookaburra Pub in downtown Nicosia and agreed to publish a new volume of poems on the basis of a certainly spurious letter of introduction from dead American novelist Norman Mailer.

The book we have with us tonight—Scrambler—is the poet’s first written in a language. It is a notable achievement for a man who has been writing for so many years in non-languages. So it is more than a book of haikus about Cyprus, it is a book that you can understand, written in an alphabet you know. Which is more than Raoul Castro, Hunter S. Thompson, David Foster Wallace, Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Michiko Kakutani can say.

SPACE IS THE FINAL FRONTIER IN THE CAFE IRREAL

A passive husband finally takes a decision. Sort of. But the building crew he allows onto his property to build an addition quickly takes over his life—down to the last cent in his savings account, which he shares with his possibly bisexual wife.

Not striking a chord?

Ok, think of Borges in a fright wig listening to GG Allin on a Moog synthesizer while slowing descending upwards.  

Find Space is the Final Frontier in Issue 64 of The Cafe Irreal. It's hot off the press. 

Much thanks to G.S. Evans and Alice Whittenburg, who have been manning The Cafe Irreal since the days of hotmail.

5 SOLVED MURDERS OUT IN GARGOYLE #65

JULIA GEISER

JULIA GEISER

It's been about two years since this piece was accepted, but Richard Peabody's mammoth two-volume 40th Anniversary Issue has finally hit the press. Peabody has been publishing Gargoyle in Washington DC since 1976, without hiatus. He'll finally be taking one this year. I hope the NEA is around when he gets back. Which is a good reason to get your copy of Gargoyle today.

Maybe the $20 price tag is slowing you down?

Here are 5 good reasons to whip out your wallet:

1. Gargoyle's home is Washington DC, where Donald Trump is now based when he's not in New York City. Gargoyle is everything Donald Trump is not.

2. Issue #65 is huge. You get a lot of quality offbeat writing for $20. 

3. Look at that stunning cover by Julia Geiser!

4.  You can buy your copy directly from Gargoyle, bypassing Amazon, another entrenched and corrupt media presence.

5. Inside, you'll find at least one story (categorized as non-fiction)  dealing with all the following pressing issues: the boulder scene from Effren C. Piñon's 1983 classic The Killing of Satan, pupu platters and tinnitus, death by scrotal ring explosion and extended families who permanently disappear inside refrigerator box death traps. 

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